FACE circles -a well 'rounded' opportunity 0
FACE now has a permanent address at 317 Midland Avenue thanks to assistive funding from several local supporting organizations and individuals.
In North Simcoe people can find resolution out of court through the Forum of Accountability in a Circle Experience (FACE) -a Huronia Restorative Justice Project since 1998. The Midland program was part a worldwide revival of the native traditional way of dealing with offensive behavior -and it works.
A community circle is an alternative to traditional court proceedings where offending conduct is resolved by having the offender, the victim and supporters of each sit together in a circle to opening discuss an incident and work to reach a consensus on how to resolve the harm done.
Lawyer Martin Prost is a founding board member and strong supporter of the FACE locally who has witnessed the results of the program.
"In most aboriginal communities in the world are using the same principals and concepts have been used for all offender -but it is a native concept that works. When it comes down to it its close to the Christian concept of dealing with offenders where the community and family deal with a problem," said Prost.
"I think there is a need for the program but we have to persuade the community, police and schools. I think we have built up a lot of credibility over the years and can take on more serious offences and we have done so already."
The FACE program has existed in North Simcoe since 1998, with volunteers having undergone training updates in 2005 and 2009. Currently there are a total of 20 volunteer facilitators from the community -two facilitators working together in pairs in restorative circles.
Prost says the program started with Young Offenders at the request of Midland Police and now is used with offenders of all ages. As an alternative to youth court and adult criminal court FACE provides an opportunity for offenders to fully appreciate and become accountable for their behavior and for the healing of their victims and of community relationships, by encouraging those most directly affected to take responsibility for considering what has happened and what should happen as a consequence. By doing so offending behavior can be transformed into a positive community resource.
"The key is not to accuse or pass judgment on a person -each party says how they were affected by what happened. You talk about yourself and not the other person and back off from laying blame. The truth always comes out when everyone talks about themselves because a safe space has been created. It's all about truth speaking, acceptance and then forgiveness," said Prost.
"The process starts out small taking only one person to let down their guard and all of the others follow. It is healing for both sides. The offender asks for a way back into the community and wants to do something to set things right. The victim gets to understand what happened and why and then puts it behind them knowing it will not happen again."
Prost says the FACE program deals with all types of offenses -major and minor, using communications to deal with and get an issue off everyone's chest and then get on with life. Prost says in the school system FACE can be used in place of expulsion or other disciplinary measures. FACE was the 2008 YMCA Peace Medallion Winner and is a valuable asset to the North Simcoe community.
Since the grand opening on November 19, the new FACE office at 317 Midland Avenue has undergone renovations to the interior of the downstairs thanks to a $3,000 donation from Midland Y'sMen for materials and Wayne Walkden -a member of the club who donated his time to do the work. A total of $2,500 from Huronia Communities Foundation went towards a computer, cabinets and chairs to furnish the office. The FACE Board is hoping to the obtain provincial funding through the Trillium Foundation to hire a co-coordinator which would make it much easier to stay in touch with the police and courts and what's going on.
The Midland Avenue space is being donated by Martin Prost himself.
"I think that FACE is a pretty valuable program -I certainly get a lot out of it that's why I volunteer to do circles," said Prost.
"But it is easier for people who are not professionals to facilitate because they are more neutral. They can make sure that circle takes responsibility and not rely on professionals to help -that way they can discover their own strength."
Prost says an off-shoot of FACE is just starting for families so that before a family member becomes involved at a criminal level they can take responsibility for their own family problems including any family member.
"They do this by discovering their own strengths and resources of the family, discussion, communicating and listening to each other -it's a type of self counseling. The only person you get to pass judgment on is yourself -that's why it works," said Prost.
"Face makes people more responsible for their own actions. Once they have been through a circle they tend to do it again as opposed to using the courts or a professional. Through circle they take responsibility for themselves by being more family minded."
FACE for Families is a non profit corporation run like a circle on consensus rather than voting. There is no set fee as it is funded primarily on a donation basis and whatever the individual family can contribute. If referred to FACE through an agency the family is obligated to seek financial assistance from the referring agency. Any member of the family who feels there is a problem that is causing someone to be excluded from the family, including themselves or is causing relenting stress or pain to a certain family member, or the family as a whole. Some situations where a Family Circle can help include constant arguing or where communication has simply died; children not respecting family rules, their school teachers or the law; teenagers feeling unheard or disrespected' a serious illness or death that has set the family reeling; work or financial stress that is affecting the whole family atmosphere. Through the Circle process, family members begin to understand and appreciate each other.
For more information please call (705) 528-1444 or email: face. firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com ; or www.facecircles.org.